While the move was initially hailed as progress for the rights of gays in the military, today many see it as a liability.
Writing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" into law meant that no new President can eliminate the ban without first convincing a majority of Congress to go along — a far higher hurdle than Clinton faced. All the Democratic candidates favor lifting the ban; the GOP candidates support keeping it. "I think President Clinton meant well, but when he set out to implement his vision he ran into a buzz saw," says Aubrey Sarvis, an ex-GI and executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a nonprofit group dedicating to lifting the ban. "I see very few, if any, good things about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' — it means you have to lie or deceive every day."